Three Abandoned Books: The Bone Clocks, Steppenwolf and Random Family

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Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Five words from the blurb: ghetto, poverty, mother, drugs, violence

I bought a copy of Random Family after reading a recommendation from Andrew Solomon, one of my favourite authors. Random Family is a fantastic snapshot of a community. It took 10 years of research and the result is a detailed insight into life in the Bronx. The families have to deal with violence, gangs and drug use and this book enables the reader to understand exactly what everyday life is like for them.

Unfortunately I found the text a bit too academic for my taste. Too many people were introduced and I found it impossible to keep track of them all. The detail was overwhelming and reduced the emotional impact of the horrors they were experiencing. It is perfect for anyone looking for a anthropological study, but it was too dry for me.

DNF

Steppenwolf (Penguin Translated Texts)

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Five words from the blurb: strange, man, society, sensual, depressive

Translated from the German by David Horrocks

Steppenwolf  is about Harry Haller, a man who feels he doesn’t belong in the world. The book follows his aimless meandering and shows his depressive outlook on life. The writing was of a good quality, but I failed to connect with Harry. The endless bleakness of the text bored me and I wished that the plot was stronger. Much of the book reminded me of Hunger by Knut Hamsun, so if you enjoy one of these books I’m sure you’ll appreciate the other, but it was too depressing for me.

DNF

The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Five words from the blurb:  adolescence, shadows, strange, world, mortality

I’ve enjoyed all of David Mitchell’s previous books so was looking forward to reading this one. Unfortunately it didn’t really work for me. There were some great individual passages, but I couldn’t connect with the book as a whole. Much of the dialogue felt very ordinary and it didn’t have the special spark that was present in Cloud Atlas. I found myself skimming large sections and never understood the purpose of the book. It was too disjointed, but this bothered me in a way it hadn’t with his earlier books because the individual stories weren’t interesting enough.

Disappointing.

DNF

 

 


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15 Comments

  1. Laurie C says:

    Oh, boo. Sorry to hear that about The Bone Clocks! I’m hoping to read it soon. I think I tried Steppenwolf once upon a time, but didn’t finish it either.

    1. Jackie says:

      Laurie, The Bone Clocks seems to be a marmite book. If you love the first chapter you’ll probably love it all *fingers crossed*

      Glad to hear I’m not alone with abandoning Steppenwolf!

  2. Ifi says:

    LOL. Marmite book, never heard of that expression, but love it.

    Friends have been raving about the Bone Clocks and trying to get me to read it. Don’t know why I have been resisting, but Im glad I did. I’m becoming very intolerant to ordinary.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, If you decide to try it let me know how you get on. :-)

  3. Well, I definitely won’t start with The Bone Clocks when I’m trying David Mitchell. You’d recommend Cloud Atlas to start with him? Not Thousand Autumns etc etc?

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I would either start with Cloud Atlas (his best in my opinion) or Black Swan Green (his most conventional, easy to read one) Thousand Autumns is good, but difficult to follow. I definitely wouldn’t start with Bone Clocks – from what I hear the best bit is spotting references to his earlier books in it. I hope you enjoy your first Mitchell.

  4. I thought about buying The Bone Clocks but after reading many less than rave reviews, I decided it probably wasn’t for me either.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, Yes, it does seem to be getting the full range of reviews. Such a shame :-(

  5. Tracey says:

    Ok, the first chapter of The Bone Clocks was a little mundane, but persevere and it really takes off. It is not as good as Cloud Atlas, but worth reading none the less.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tracey, I read a lot more than the first chapter – roughly the first 100 pages and then several other chunks of the book. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but it didn’t work for me.

  6. kimbofo says:

    Oh wow, I can’t believe you didn’t like the Bone Clocks because I know how much you like David Mitchell. I’m not really a fan, so probably will never read it, and having seen a few reviews I can see it’s not the type of book I’d get on with.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I think you’re right – I can’t see you enjoying The Bone Clocks. I think you might like Black Swan Green though, perhaps you can give it a try one day :-)

  7. Alyce says:

    I was so not impressed by The Bone Clocks. I was hoping that it would be a good read because I’ve wanted to read one of his books for a while, and I guess I started with the wrong one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alyce, It’s good to know I’m not alone! I hope you try another of his books one day (I recommend Cloud Atlas) Fingers crossed you’ll enjoy that much more.

  8. Christy says:

    Oh, that’s too bad about Random Family. That was one of the first books I blogged about, and I really loved it. I do remember that it was impossible to keep track of everyone, so I just kind of had to let the book wash over me and not even try. But I found it great insight into how this particular group of people dealt with poverty, prison, etc.

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